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Thursday October 20, 2005
Human rights groups have raised profound concerns about the independence of the court trying him and whether it meets international standards.

Among other issues, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have expressed unease about limits on the ability of the accused to mount a defence, the burden of proof, political sway over the court and use of the death penalty.

Questions also surround the fact the Iraqi government has passed new laws governing the court, but has not yet brought them into force. Those new statutes could take effect in the next few days, or after the trial begins, raising further doubts about the clarity of procedures.

Saddam and seven others are due to appear in court on October 19 on charges of premeditated murder in the deaths of more than 140 Shi'ite men from the village of Dujail, north of Baghdad, following a failed attempt on the then-president's life in 1982.

In an 18-page report on Sunday, New York-based Human Rights Watch questioned trial preparations, including the amount of time the defence had been given to study evidence and its access to witnesses, and said proceedings might not be free or fair.

"We have grave concerns that the court will not provide the fair trial guarantees required by international law," said Richard Dicker, director of the group's international justice program.

Human rights groups concerned over Saddam trial
Reuters
Random Thots
Letter to the Editor

Once again Graeme MacKay, your editorial cartoonist, has created another in a long line of small-minded, simplistic, reactionary cartoons.

In the Oct. 20 cartoon, he makes fun of Amnesty International, one of the best organizations humanity has created, for insisting that Saddam Hussein be considered innocent until proven guilty, one of the fundamental pillars of democratic justice.

Is MacKay implying that only some people should receive a fair trial? Isn't that exactly the type of horrendous thinking that happens in freedom-starved regimes such as Hussein's?

Didn't anyone at The Spectator see the irony? Could the paper please save itself any future embarrassment and find a new editorial cartoonist; one who can think beyond a knee-jerk?

Tim Butler,
Hamilton